MIT Hazing Policy

MIT prohibits hazing by individuals or groups and defines it as follows: Any action or activity that is reasonably likely to, or is intended to, endanger the physical or mental health of a person for the purpose of initiation, admission into, affiliation with, or as a condition for continued membership in a group, organization, or living community. This definition shall apply regardless of location or consent of participants. Hazing includes, without limitation, behaviors that violate Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 269, Sections 17-19 (reproduced in their entirety here).

Endangering mental health is defined as sleep deprivation, extended isolation, public degradation, intimidation, creation of artificial and excessive stress, public nudity, and other comparable behaviors that are reasonably likely to,or are intended to, cause a significant degree of distress, disgrace, anguish, or interference with academic, professional, or personal pursuits.

Apathy or acquiescence in the presence of hazing are not neutral acts and constitute hazing as prohibited by this policy. Students and other members of the Institute community must report incidents of hazing that they witness or for which they were present. Incidents of hazing shall be reported to an appropriate law enforcement official and the Office of Student Citizenship. Failure to report incidents of hazing is a violation of this policy and may be a violation of Massachusetts law (M.G.L. c. 269 Section 18).

Any retaliation against any person who reports, is a witness to, is involved with, or cooperates with the adjudication of hazing is strictly prohibited.

Prohibited forms of hazing include but are not limited to:

  • Subtle Hazing: Behaviors that emphasize a power imbalance between new members and other members of the group or community. This is termed “subtle hazing” because these types of hazing are often taken for granted or accepted as “harmless” or meaningless. Subtle hazing typically involves activities or attitudes that breach reasonable standards of mutual respect and place new members on the receiving end of ridicule, embarrassment, and/or humiliation tactics. New members often feel the need to endure subtle hazing to feel like part of the group or community.
    • Examples of subtle hazing include but are not limited to:
      • Deception
      • Silence periods
      • Deprivation of privileges
      • Social isolation
      • Name calling
      • Assignment of duties not assigned to other members.
  • Harassment Hazing: Behaviors that cause emotional anguish or physical discomfort in order to feel like part of the group. Harassment hazing often confuses, frustrates, and causes undue stress for new members.
    • Examples of harassment hazing include but are not limited to:
      • Verbal abuse
      • Threats or implied threats
      • Sexual simulations
      • Requiring situationally inappropriate attire
      • Sleep deprivation.
  • Violent Hazing: Behaviors that do or could cause physical or psychological harm.
    • Examples of violent hazing include but are not limited to:
      • Placing students in the shower against their will
      • Forced or coerced alcohol or other drug consumption
      • Forced or coerced sexual acts
      • Beating
      • Paddling, or other forms of assault
      • Forced or coerced ingestion of vile substances
      • Bondage
      • Kidnapping
      • Expected participation in illegal activity.

The sanction of disciplinary suspension or disciplinary expulsion will be strongly considered for individuals or groups found responsible for hazing.

In addition to the foregoing, MIT adheres to and enforces Massachusetts State Law that prohibits the practice of hazing. Students are advised that the Massachusetts State Law on hazing is available here.

Source: MIT Mind and Hand Book, policy on hazing